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Breaking down the Nor Cal tournament
March 12, 2014, 05:00 AM By Nathan Mollat Daily Journal

With the Northern California basketball tournament kicking off Wednesday, it’s safe to say there are no “bad” teams at this level.

As such, most teams will keep the focus on themselves and not so much on who their opponent is. At this point of the season, no team can make drastic changes to match up with a Nor Cal opponent. It’s all about executing what a team is most successful doing and then riding that to a win or a loss.

There are seven San Mateo County teams competing for a spot in the state title game, with four of them receiving home games in the first round, while Serra and Burlingame will host second-round games Saturday.

All first-round games begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Division I

No. 11 Menlo-Atherton (18-9) at

No. 6 Rodriquez-Fairfield (26-3)

The Mustangs won the Monticello Empire League championship with a 9-1 record. … They lost in the Sac-Joaquin Section championship game, 96-68 to Jesuit-Carmichael. … the Mustangs went 4-2 against Nor Cal-qualifying teams and had a win over Riordan. … Rodriguez is led by 6-foot senior guard Rishod Abraham, who is averaging nearly 18 points per game. He’s gone over the 20-point mark 12 times this season, with a season-high 40 against Napa. … M-A is led by the outside-inside tandem of Royce Branning and Oliver Bucka. Branning appears to be finding his stroke at the right time following a mid-season slump. He scored 21 points in the Bears’ Central Coast Section semifinal win over Homestead, with Bucka adding 11. … M-A comes into the game averaging 50 points per contest, while allowing 44. The Bears like to control the pace with a patient half-court offense and will need to slow down a Mustangs’ squad that is averaging 63 points per game.

Division II

No. 5 Montgomery-Santa Rosa (25-6)/No. 12 Del Oro-Loomis winner (28-2) at No. 4 Serra (21-8), 6 p.m. Saturday

Montgomery captured the North Bay League crown with a 9-1 mark. … The Vikings lost in the North Coast Section semifinals to Concord. … Del Oro won the Sierra Foothill League title. … The Golden Eagles lost in the semis of the Sac-Joaquin Section tournament. … Montgomery has proven to be quite the road team, having compiled a 12-1 record away from home this season. … Serra has accomplished more this season than anyone could have imagined. The Padres’ always-tenacious defense has kept them in games and, when their perimeter shots are falling, they are a tough out. … Center Trevor Brown has been, according to coach Chuck Rapp, “an unsung hero” this season. At 6-1, Brown is playing out of position at center, but has a nose for the basket. He has provided crucial inside scoring for Serra this season, a year in which the frontcourt has not been a Serra strength.

Division III

No. 10 Vanden-Fairfield (19-11) at No. 7 Aragon (20-9)

Vanden was the champion of the Solano County Athletic Conference with a 9-1 record. … The Vikings lost in the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section tournament. … Aragon finished in a tie for second with Mills at 9-3 in the Peninsula Athletic League South Division. … The Dons went on to capture their first CCS title in 20 years, downing Valley Christian 61-55 Saturday. … Vanden comes into the game averaging 61 points. … DeMarre Walker is the Vikings’ leading scorer at just under 17 points per game, but they have seven players averaging five points or more per contest. … Vanden could be a match-up nightmare for the Dons as the Vikings feature 12 players 6-feet tall or taller. … Aragon, which averages 63 points a game, will rely heavily on its “Triplets”: point guard Alex Manu (16 points per game), Toby Liebergesell (16 ppg) and Kevin Hahn (13 ppg), who rarely come out of the game. … Jacob Andriola filled in for Kono Filimoehala-Egan at center and came up with a few key rebounds in the CCS title game. … Guard Trevor Pagaduan averages 8 points per game, but is tough and fearless and usually one of the Dons’ main targets on the fast break. … The Dons have shown they can win in a variety of ways and may have one of the more versatile and basketball-savvy trio in Manu, Liebergesell and Hahn.

No. 12 Miramonte-Orinda (16-12)/No. 5 Fairfield (25-6) winner at No. 4 Burlingame (26-4), 6 p.m. Saturday

Miramonte finished fourth in the Diablo Foothill League with a 6-6 record. … The Matadors lost in the second round of the NCS tournament. … Fairfield finished second behind Vanden in the Solano County Athletic Conference. … The Falcons lost in the NCS championship game. … Demoriaye Hart-Spikes leads Fairfield with 17 points per game. … Burlingame won two straight Open Division games after dropping their opener to Riordan and, as long as Frankie Ferrari’s ankle holds up, the Panthers are a threat to anyone in the bracket. … The Panthers are another team with a perfect inside-outside combo in 6-8 center Nick Loew and Ferrari. Justin Gutang provides that much-needed third scorer, while Robby Baumgarten and Kevin Abuyaghi can provide instant offense off the bench.

Division IV

No. 14 Marshall-SF (17-12) at No. 3 Half Moon Bay (24-5)

Marshall finished third in the Academic Athletic Association. … The Phoenix fell to Lincoln, 65-38, in the San Francisco Section title game. … Half Moon Bay won the PAL North Division title and finished sixth of eight teams in the CCS Open Division, going 2-2. … Half Moon Bay needs to find a consistent third option in its offense. Center Rico Nuño was named the PAL North Division Player of the Year and guard Corey Cilia was a first-team selection, but the Cougars have not had that third scoring threat to turn to when Nuño and Cilia are keyed on. Chase DeFrane is averaging 7.5 points, Tommy Nuño averages 6.9 and E.J. Madriaga is averaging 6.6 are the three main contenders to provide a scoring punch.

No. 10 Colfax (17-13) at No. 7 Sacred Heart Prep (20-7)

Colfax finished third in the Pioneer Valley League standings before making a run to the Sac-Joaquin Section semifinals. … The Gators tied for the West Bay Athletic League championship with Pinewood.… They went on to capture the CCS title Saturday. … The Falcons are averaging 44 points per game this season and can go 6-4, 6-5, 6-6 in the frontcourt. …SHP has relied heavily on the contributions of Corbin Koch and James McLean this season but, during the playoffs, a number of other players have stepped up and contributed. Mason Randall was huge in the CCS finals — scoring 15 in the win over Harker.

Girls’ basketball

Division IV

No. 9 Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa (23-7) at No. 8 Menlo School (18-11)

Cardinal Newman tied for the North Bay League championship with Santa Rosa. … The Cardinals lost in the second round of the NCS tournament. … The Knights finished in third in the WBAL Foothill Division, but went on to win their second straight CCS title. … The Cardinals come in averaging 50 points per game, but had seven games of 60 points or more. … Menlo comes in averaging 46.6 points per game… The Knights need a full-team effort to win on most nights. Sophomore guard Hannah Paye is the only player averaging double digits in scoring. Freshman Sam Erisman is coming into her own, while Donya Dehnad gives the Knights a physical presence on the floor.



Tags: points, division, averaging, season, league, title,

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